(Agape Love-Part Five Number 9 in a series of posts Ramblings from your Grandparents)
Agape Love–Part Five
Perhaps I can speak so eloquently about this subject because I came very close to doing the thing I am saying “Don’t do!” I had a boyfriend my last 2 years of high school. He was a Navy veteran, home and working in the iron ore mines after 4 years of service. He was really waiting for me to grow up and invested two years of his life in me and my family while doing so. Bud was a wonderful young man who had never been exposed to Christ and His teachings. Even without that advantage he was decent and honorable, hard working, thoughtful, and many other good qualities hung gently around him. I went off to Bible college caring for Bud as much as ever, planning ultimately to marry him after my one year at Minnesota Bible College. He began to clear land to build a house for us. I had been frank in telling him that I wanted him to be a Christian, wouldn’t marry him unless he was; all the time knowing that if he DID “become a Christian” I would not know in time whether it was for me or for the Lord. It was a very precarious spot to be in. I went home at Thanksgiving and Christmas and again in mid-winter. It was always wonderful to see Bud. He came to Minneapolis to visit me a time or two. We wrote every few days.
I know what I’m going to tell you next is hard to believe I probably wouldn’t believe it myself if I hadn’t lived it. But it’s true! I went to bed one night in February of 1951 in my dorm room at Minnesota Bible College caring for Bud as always. I got up the next morning and hoped I would never hear from him again. How could such a thing happen? I can only believe God did for me what I might not have had the strength to do myself.
The strangest part was that the letters stopped as of that day and the phone calls, too. I did see Bud once more….to tell him it was over between us. Who wanted to hurt such a special young man? I felt like a deceiver, manipulator, a selfish young girl! But I knew the separation HAD to occur. I KNEW it was right. Bud tried to contact me once, just before leaving for a new life in Alaska. I missed his phone call by just a few minutes. My dorm mom took the message. It haunted me for a long time, but in my heart of hearts I knew it was God’s doing that I had not been there to receive the call. I don’t know what kind of a life I would have had if I’d married Bud….that is, how faithful would I have remained to God? Would I have compromised my beliefs? Would I have been faithful in worshipping with His people? Would I have been able to use God’s gifts to me in a way that He would be blessed and honored? Would I have influenced Bud for Christ? I’ll never know, I only know my life took a giant leap in another direction in what seemed out of my hands.
I do know I am forever grateful for whatever happened to my heart that night so long ago that set my life on a different course. I know it was best for me and directed by God. I certainly had prayed and often that God would direct my life and my choices. How can I believe anything else but that He graciously did just that.
Your Grandpa has been GOOD for me. I shudder to think what I might have become without his steady (and sometimes tough guidance. When I threw a tantrum as a young bride he told me to “go to your room until you can act like a woman.” Ouch!! That wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear. When I nit-picked at him in the early years of our marriage he said, “I love you too much to make you uncomfortable over such unimportant things.” I learned to control my tongue. When I complained that because of my shyness I had no friends and he had so many, why didn’t he keep me close to him so his friends could be mine, he replied, “If you want a friend, be friendly.” and walked away from me. When I followed my parent’s habit of being late for church services he left me at home. (He has hardly ever waited on me since.) When I fussed that he didn’t share much of his ministry with me – who he’d seen, what he’d said, who called on the telephone – he said rather emphatically, “It’s none of your business.” And it wasn’t! (Through his 45 years of ministry people who have gone to him with their problems have NEVER had to worry about Grandpa telling ANYONE.) When I scooped his empty glass out of his hand as soon as he finished, rushed to the sink, dried it and put it in the cupboard he let me know, “You make me feel terrible for messing up your kitchen.”
These things were not always easy for me to take and even more difficult for me to understand, but I know now they were EXACTLY what I needed. I wanted him to cuddle me and coddle me and give me my every whim. But Grandpa loved me TOO much to let me have my way when it wasn’t right. (Thanks, Honey, for loving me tough as well as tender!) I consider your Grandpa to be God’s special gift to me, grandchildren. I pray each of you will find YOUR SPECIAL GIFT, too.
I Should Have Listened
We have dear friends that we have known for over forty years. Their children were just the age of ours and we were all good friends. Our paths would cross occasionally through the years and we would pick up right where we left off with our friendship. Their oldest daughter graduated from high school a year before Linda, with honors, and a full scholarship to one of our Bible colleges. She went for a short while and then told her parents she wanted to get married – to an elder’s son in the church where her dad was minister.
The dad and mom did all they could to stop their daughter from making what they felt would be a terrible mistake. The young man, though “raised in the church,” did not live a Christ-like life. The daughter was very determined and her parents finally gave their reluctant consent.
Two years into the marriage the daughter came home to visit for a few days with her parents. She and her dad took a walk one evening on the quiet streets of the little town where her parents now lived. Her dad opened the conversation with, “You’re not happy, are you, Sis?”
“No, dad, I should have listened to you and mom.”
Grandkids, I can’t even write that little story twenty years later (make that over forty) without tears coming to my eyes. Those words must be some of the saddest ever spoken, “I should have listened.”
I like to tell young people whenever I get the chance that if those who love you the most, your parents, your brother or sister, your preacher, your best friend are saying, “Don’t do this,” then YOU BETTER LISTEN. Loving family and friends do not put stumbling blocks in your way just to make your life miserable. They see something you are not seeing and you’d best pay attention.
Still, after hearing what others think of your chosen one, the bottom line is that you will have to choose your own mate. No one can do it for you.
The Choice Will Always Be Yours
My dad, your Great grandpa James, would often tell the story of how his mother, upon several occasions, picked out his wife for him. Dad never succumbed to her wishes because he knew her choices were not wise ones for him. When he finally picked my mother to be his bride, your Great, great, grandma James was furious and did everything she could to stop the marriage. Because his mother opposed the marriage so much my dad and mom were secretly married. When they told my Grandpa and Grandma Derrit, it is reported that Grandma took after dad with a butcher knife and it had to be wrestled from her by my Grandpa.
Grandma James was just as upset as Grandma Derrit and my earliest recollections were of little love lost between the two. However, as the years rolled by a truce of sorts came about and I believe Grandma James learned to love my mother and Grandma Derrit tolerated my dad.
My grandmothers probably meddled too much in the affairs of their children. Today, many parents just blindly go along with whomever their children choose to marry even when they’re quite confident it is a mistake. Times have certainly changed, One way is not better than the other, neither way is right, but the final decision will always be yours. God bless you as you make it!
Agape love is not something you seek or wait to happen, it is a choice you make.